The Glass Bangle

Being a Woman

Listen to the Voices

I would like to clarify that I do not have any leanings to any political party be it the Right, the Left or the Centre. I’m just an Indian citizen who has believed in the strength of our country to remain unified against all threats; battered maybe and bruised definitely, but my India has always stood with head held high, reflecting the dreams and beliefs of millions of us Indians. So when I see a subtle yet persistent effort to undermine that Unity, I feel quite anguished and at the same time threatened.

It’s definitely a sign of impending darkness when thinkers, writers, poets, artists and film makers are targeted. They’re the people who can call attention both on the national and international arenas to troubling issues affecting our society. So when efforts to discredit them and mute their voices are gaining strength, it does not bode well for our country. The awards might have been bestowed by a particular party in power at that time, but once it is given, then it becomes a symbol of recognition by the State. So the action of returning the awards should be seen as a form of protest against the policies of the State.

There’s a subtle yet spreading attempt to portray the movement of returning awards as an issue of ‘them’ against ‘us’- intellectuals and thinkers against the common man. We seem to be forgetting that they too are a part of this society. So when they express concern over a particular issue, in this case the growing intolerance in the country towards any thought process which goes against that of the establishment, we owe them at least a patient hearing, instead of heaping ridicule on them.

The question we should be asking ourselves is not whether the awardees should return the awards or not, but what has prompted them to do so. Unfortunately, the focus has shifted from the reason for their protest to the form of protest they have chosen. As a thriving democracy, we have always been open to healthy forms of dissent. We, who wait patiently by the road side for hours so that processions and marches of political parties can pass by, are not willing to give a patient hearing to the thinkers of our country who are engaging in one of the most peaceful forms of protest that I’ve witnessed.

It is true that they do not become better citizens of the country or even better human beings merely  by being recipients of the highest honours bestowed in their particular fields. But they are undoubtedly people whose voices reach further. We have all appreciated their works at one time or another. I do not have any awards to return, but that doesn’t mean that I blindly criticize the people doing so. My contribution can be to pay attention to what they are saying, form an informed opinion, and not get carried away by a misplaced sense of indignation.

It’s alarming that thinkers and thought leaders are being systematically discredited. History has shown us that a common factor of all autocracies has been the targeted annihilation of intellectuals, a case in point being the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. On a trip to that beautiful country, our guide told us stories of how people wearing spectacles were especially chosen for extermination since they were thought to be intellectuals, who were considered the worst enemies of the State.

A couple of days back I was discussing with my mother about the beautiful diversity that is so unique to India. We have so many differences and yet we are so proud to be a part of this amazing country. We don’t even understand each other’s languages, but the language of love, respect and tolerance has bonded us together against the worst odds. The only factor that cuts across all our differences, other than our national identity, is that of religion. While our national identity unifies us, religion will only tear apart the fabric of harmony that we have so painstakingly created over the years.

My appeal is to consider ourselves as Indians first, and then as members of a particular religion or community. Let’s be aware of what is happening around us and let’s not give in to divisive forces. If today, a particular form of dissent is being ridiculed, tomorrow it will be our freedom of expressing dissent that will be extinguished.

I strongly believe in the power of the individual. If each one of us loves and respects our fellow human beings and also teach our children the language of tolerance and love, we can definitely make India a better and safer place for our future generations.

 

 

 

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18 comments on “Listen to the Voices

  1. Awkward Earthling
    November 10, 2015

    thanks for this wonderful read !! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susanna J. Sturgis
    November 6, 2015

    You’ve put this so well. In the U.S. we have many people who don’t stop to ask “why have they returned the awards?” — or, more likely here, “why are they protesting?” They immediately assume the worst and refuse to listen. But dissenting and asking questions can be the highest form of loyalty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Glass Bangle
      November 6, 2015

      Thank you so much Susanna for the support. We Indians are masters of arguments and debates. But at the end of the day we go home with a sense of affection for the other person. That is what is being slowly threatened – the love that cut across barriers is getting diluted.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder
    November 5, 2015

    Tolerance has become such a rarity! I wish every individual could think in this way so that this country would be a better place for all of us… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Glass Bangle
      November 6, 2015

      Maniparna, its heartening that there are so many voices being raised today and so many people like us ordinary citizens, who do not want an atmosphere of hate to spread. We will prevail. I’m sure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. dreamzandclouds
    November 5, 2015

    I cant agree more with you Anjana, the happenings around us has been our topic of discussion at office on lunch everyday. And everyone of us are equally disappointed and angered at the way things are turning out to be…this is not the India we all love and are proud of :/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bala
    November 5, 2015

    The question is not why but why now? Have we not gone through worse phases in our post independence history which would have warranted a return of these awards? I am not sure if any of the thinkers had proposed a solution to address this ‘intolerance’. Maybe it got missed in the noise created around the return. In today’s India there are bigger issues which needs to be addressed and this return of awards is just taking the focus away from those.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Glass Bangle
      November 5, 2015

      Bala, thanks for visiting this blog and dropping a comment.
      The whole question of ‘Why Now’ is a completely different issue. I feel that we should at least give a hearing to why so many people across the country are feeling a sense of things getting completely out of hand. There seems to be a sudden appearance of ‘Guardians of Religion, who are being allowed to use violence to intimidate and silence all those who think differently.
      As you correctly pointed out, shouldn’t the government be paying more attention to crucial issues rather than spending valuable time, money and manpower on superficial issues like ‘banning beef’ and such.
      We’ve never needed ‘policing’ on our personal lives. I know of so many people who eat beef living harmoniously beside those who venerate cows. Both parties are aware of the others sentiments and act accordingly. So is the case with a host of other issues. We are a tolerant nation, otherwise our diversities would have killed our country long ago.
      I only want to say that we as citizens of this amazing country have a responsibility to practice humaneness and love for our fellow countrymen irrespective of religion, caste or language.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sid Balachandran
    November 5, 2015

    Eloquently put, Anju 🙂
    The change needs to come from within and start at ‘home’

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Glass Bangle
      November 5, 2015

      Sid, thanks a million for that support. This is something I feel very strongly about and it’s so heartening to realise that others share my views. India rocks, and I want to see it like that always 🙂

      Like

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